Search Engine Optimisation and Link Building in 2018

Let’s face it, SEO is considered by many to be a ‘black art’, by others to be a waste of time, whilst those who do agree that SEO is worthwhile will endlessly debate about what is good and what is bad, what tactics are ‘white’ and what are ‘black’.

“If you ask six SEO experts a question you will probably get 7 answers….”

Then again, if you turned to Google to ask them about SEO, they appear to suggest that they disagree with the concept (wanting their results to be natural and not manipulated), whilst at the same time knowing that without someone to help all the website owners ‘understand’ how to set up their sites so that Google can read them properly, they (Google) would be lost.

The Death of Link Building Announced Again (and Again and Again)

When it comes to the thorny topic of Link Building, not only do we see Google denouncing the process because it is not natural, we also see them desperate for some help in deciding what sites to list and what ones not to bother with. Like it or not Google needs links..

BUT, not all links are equal and there is definitely a way of gaining Google’s displeasure when it comes to building them. Do it the wrong way and your site is doomed, that is one of the known Google rules and is put into play all the time.

Turning to the Experts

This is why many businesses turn to the experts, as here they can rest easy, knowing their site will be built in a way that Google can read and the content will be created to suit the Search Engines and their readers alike. They will also know that the links built to their site will be created in such a way that it will not be penalised by Google. They will then expect that their site gets better rankings and more traffic. In many cases this is exactly what happens, but in some it does not, and sometimes it is impossible for anyone to discover just what has gone wrong, what appears to be working in one area, fails to do so in another…

Either way, you can be pretty sure that the website owner will not really be aware of what is going on and that there are many ways of creating a ‘buzz’ and the boost of (relevant) traffic that all website owners want.

The Key to Top Class Traffic

If you own a business which has a website, you will, I am sure, have been inundated with telephone calls and emails promising you top rankings on Google, sometimes for little cost. You will also have seen countless bits of software that will boost your site, often, they say, at the touch of a button….

Some of these claims will be by bona fide companies and of the software – particularly research software – can be useful, but what few of them will tell you is that it will be the CONTENT of the site that will win the day, both for getting traffic and for converting your visitors to customers.

The True Power of Content

So why is content so very important? This may seem to be a strange question, but many site owners do not give it much attention. They spend a get deal of time discussing format and presentation, but often give scant regard to the content the pages are to hold. So doing things this way is simply not going to work because there is nothing for Google to get its ’teeth’ into, so the rankings are poor. When (and if) a potential customer arrives, there is nothing to ‘make’ them want to buy or at least to take the relationship any further.

The correct way of approaching any market place (and the keyword market place of the web is no different) is to see what people want. When it comes to Google, this means finding out what phrases people use in the market sector which relate to your products, and thus the pages of your site that will be selling those products.

Reverse Engineering and Latent Semantic Indexing

Then you can start writing content that uses those phrases (and similar words using a technique called LSI (or Latent Semantic Indexing) – this being vital as Google gets cleverer and cleverer). You can even reverse engineer the top sites in Google for a given phrase, therefore TELLING you what words to use.

Pages written this way will not only give Google what it wants, but will also give the visitor the information that will enable them to decide if your product is for them or if you can help them solve the problem that drove them to search for help in the first place.
This content ought to include images, videos, flow charts and anything else that will help them to make a good decision (which hopefully means doing business with you).

The OTHER reason for TOP QUALITY CONTENT

Saying all this, content has another VITAL job to do in the battle for traffic and sales. Having good content will mean that others will link to the site and mention it in their Social Media postings, after all they will have good reason to, they will have something WORTH SHARING.

content is king internet concept

content is king internet concept

But, it is not always easy getting people to notice how good your copy is. The whole thing is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. After all, your fantastic copy can’t get links until someone finds it, and reads it. Without rankings or some form of Social Media chatter, no one will ever know it is there..

Priming the Pump (and keeping the pressure up too)

This is where SEO, Paid Search and Social Media come into play. By using all or some of these systems, website owners can start the ball rolling so that people can see just how good they, and their all important copy, is.

Great Copy Required

This is where the need for the top rate copy comes in, as even though the SEO and Social Media work above will bring in the visits, if there is nothing there to grip the audience, all the time and effort will have been wasted as no sales will be made and perhaps as importantly, no one will find anything worthwhile to come back for, mention or link to.

Without these mentions and links Google will not get the signals it wants to give the site repeatedly better rankings and thus more effort is needed to keep things going. If, however, there is something to ‘write home about’ then the links will come in, your site / product will be mentioned on Social Media, and what is more you will get repeat visits.

Are you Getting Returning Visitors?

This is just one area where Google Analytics can help. Just as having lots of New Visitors is good, a low percentage of Returning visitors indicates that you site is not delivering and people are not coming back for more.

 

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

If your site is one with a poor level of returning visitors, then a long hard look at the contents is a must…

The Different Processes of SEO

The term Search Engine Optimisation covers a host of things, usually divided (basically) into Technical, On Page, Off Page and Social Media.

Technical SEO

This covers the way a site is built, how fast it is, how easy it can be read and navigated as well as topics like Rich Snippets and Schema. Some of this is easy to do, some of it a bit more difficult, and not all website developers or SEO professionals cover all of these areas.

On Page SEO

Here we are talking about the words on the pages and the placement of the ‘target keywords’ in the important places on the page, all with a view of ensuring that Google finds what it needs in the ‘appropriate places’ on a sites’ pages. Of course this includes the copy / content of a site, but that is not SEO.SEO is how you make sure that the copy is found, not the actual copy itself (except that SEO will help you find out what to talk about in the first place via the Keyword / Market Research phase).

Off Page SEO

This area covers the issue of Links (and to a degree Social Media). It is these ‘signals’ that attract Googles attention and that will get the rankings and ‘seed’ traffic needed. Creating links also helps to keep the pot boiling while the site builds up its momentum.

Social Media

This is included here because even though this is nothing to do with SEO per say, it is important when considering the process of getting the site, brand and product noticed and talked about in a way that will enhance the site in Google’s eyes and extend the reach of the site beyond that of the Search Engine Results.

The Basic SEO process

In all cases it is necessary to carry out the keyword research so that you can target the phrases that are relevant to your market place AND are being used today.

The site must then be built the right way (the technical SEO bit), and then the copy created. This should be of a high quality, but does not have to be as good as it has to be for ‘Top Notch SEO’, for reasons that will be apparent later. Things such as internal linking should be carried out of course, but basically this is a ‘quick’ method of SEO.

Then the link building starts. These are built in the right way at the right speed, using techniques like ‘Power Link Structures’. Social Media signals are also created using this method. In some cases the pump is also primed by actually creating a small amount of traffic to some of the articles and posts that form a part of the linking structure.

Guest Posts Are Used in the quick method too

Guest posts are included in the ‘quick’ method too of course, but they are used differently. As you will see later on, the ‘proper way’ of placing Guest posts is to find a top Infuencer site, chat to them and get them to accept the post (or pay an lot of money for the privilege). However, this process is a LOT more expensive than just placing an article on a relevant site, so for those clients with limited budgets this is the way we go. Basically, these Guest Posts are ‘link vehicles’ and as long as they are well written (no article spinning here at SOM) and contain links that are not going to trigger a Penguin penalty, they do help, we have many examples  the prove the point.

Carrying out SEO in this manner DOES work and is the way the majority of SEO companies work.

The Top Quality SEO process

If you talk to those SEO professionals who practice only the whitest of white SEO, then they will say this is the only way, everything else being a waste of time. Well I disagree with that, but there is no doubt that this process is superior and offers a greater chance of success, BUT, it is a lot harder and thus more expensive in time and money.

This process includes all the On page SEO that Basic SEO requires, including things such as having explanatory ‘Category Pages’ for Ecommerce sites. These are needed as most sites of this type have lots of product pages that (a) often use the same words as a host of other sites and (b) are also often far too short. Thus these Category pages allow the owner to present the products they sell, with links of course to the product pages themselves. These pages can be much better at getting rankings and thus their use should be seriously considered for all levels of SEO.

Power Pages

Remember, this whole process is based on having TOP QUALITY content on your site. Such pages are often called ‘Power Pages’, their contents varying from ‘How to do something’ to a great infographic, anything that would be interesting to visitors and has not been done before (or at least as sufficiently).

Text based Power Pages need to be around 2,000 words long and contain images, videos and links to other authoritative content on the web, PLUS of course the areas in your site that you want people to see and the pages that will result in conversions and sales. Infographics can be just that, but having some words on the page as well can help in my opinion (just as having a transcript of the words used in a video can).

What to Create the Power Page About

The Keyword Research for the site would of course have been carried out first, so the target phrases are known and understood. Using these words, the bulk of the site, (the ‘normal’ pages) will be written and optimised, this including interlinking relevant pages (Google likes this).

Power pages, however, have a different mission. Their job is to get noticed BIG TIME, to become a fount of knowledge and a ‘go to’ source of information on a particular subject (relevant to the products and services of the hosting website). With this in mind it is easy to see that the very first thing you have to know is what subject to write about.

Research into Trends (or try to start one yourself)

This is where checking on trending posts and web pages can be a great help, as it allows you to see what people have become interested in over a period of time (which you can set). You can then have a look at these posts / pages and use them as a basis of your own works, all in the knowledge that people are INTERESTED in the topic.

finding trending topics

 

Of course you can also plough your own farrow, choosing a topic that is relevant to your market place, for instance ‘What is the History of Plastering’ or ‘How to choose the right lawnmower’. There are countless topics to choose from. Besides Kudani, you could also use Buzzsumo.

Writing the Page

Either way, you can start your research into what to talk about, and that will mean looking not only at the trending sites, but also at all the top INFLUENCER sites, in this instance the ones that are at the top of the Search Engines’ results for some top terms.

All the while it is vital to make sure that the page will be ‘entertaining’ and fulfil one of its main purposes, that of being WORTH SHARING.

Note, for a great definition of what an Influencer is, click this link.

Supporting Guest Posts

One important part of this SEO process is to make sure that there are links to the Power Page from trusted sites, but as it can take some time to get an INFUENCER to mention the page or allow a Guest Post on their site, the first thing that needs to be done is to place a well written ‘taster’ post on a High Domain Authority site.

Thus one post (perhaps more) is written and placed on some relevant sites. In most instances this means paying a ‘publishing fee’. Here I must state that there are some SEO’s who think that placing a post on a site that is known to take money for the privilege is worthless. However when you know that high profile sites like the HuffingtonPost take money for Guest posts, you can see that their argument holds little water.

Converting the Influencers

This starts at the website level, where some selected sites are contacted with a view to them mentioning the Power Page or by having a Guest post placed on their site. It need not contain a DO FOLLOW link as we are after traffic as much as link juice, but if they will allow a FOLLOW link then all the better.

It is best if these influences have been contacted and nurtured for some time before you make a request to place a guest post on their site (this also being the case with Social Media Influencers).
Hopefully one of the sites you contact will allow the publication and thus provide you with a link and the potential for a lot of relevant traffic.

Create a Press Release

Press Releases are a well known way of creating a ‘buzz’ in a manner in which Google approves. All the posts are the same of course, but as the links are always NO FOLLOW this does not matter. Google, it is said, really loves press releases and so one pointing to your power page and telling all about how interesting it is and how they should not miss it, is a good idea.

Posting on your Own Social Media Channels

Presuming you have some Social Media accounts, now is the time to start posting about the power page, (although maybe you have been talking about it coming for a few weeks already – another neat trick). Remember that you will have to post again and again here, Social Media posts being, for the most part, short lived, as they are soon replaced with the next tweet and thus scroll off peoples screens. This makes choosing the right time to post important too.

Contacting the Social Media Influencers

Now is the time to start contacting the Social Media Influencers. There are various ways the leaders in a field can be found and once found the ‘nurturing process’ needs to be continued. This process needs to have been started before the power page is posted, the SEO Agency in question having to have commenced this process some time before.

The idea here is to mention that they may be interested in the Power Page’s contents, perhaps also mentioning the Guest Posts that have already been posted and the Press Release. All of this with the aim of getting them to ‘add their weight’ to the campaign.
This is important, as if they can be convinced to mention the power page on their Social Media accounts, the ripples will build and build, all resulting in more traffic and higher rankings.

Monitor and Interact

Hopefully you will have had some comments on your Social Media channels and on the Guest Posts (where the sites allow). It is VITAL that you monitor these and respond as that will only strengthen the whole campaign.

In Conclusion

So there we have it, a brief summary of what SEO is, and how the two main types differ. Hopefully you can see the differences between the two approaches and can understand why SEO carried out ‘by the book’ is such a long, complicated and thus expensive process.

The good news for businesses with shallower pockets is that the ‘basic SEO’ does work in most markets, you just have to choose to approach any highly competitive areas in a cleverer manner, and not try to charge headlong in to get top rankings for highly competitive keyword phrases.

Factors To Consider When Hiring A Search Engine Marketing Company

When people go online to find information, they almost always start by firing up their favourite search engine and typing in what they are looking for. The search engines, in turn, show a list of results that are related to the user’s query. These results are ordered by how relevant they are to the query, as well as a number of other factors. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing certain components of a website so that it will show up higher in the search results.

SEO is big business. In fact, there are companies that do nothing else but help businesses and website owners optimize their sites. It makes sense when you think about it. After all, if you are able to achieve a top listing with your site, you can get practically unlimited free traffic to your pages. This can dramatically boost your bottom line by allowing you to get more leads or sales.

Unfortunately, not all search engine marketing companies are created equal. The process of optimizing a website is rather complex. Even more important, however, is the fact that the variables that search engines look at when ranking websites are constantly changing. A good SEO agency needs to be up to date with all of the latest optimization techniques if they want to help their clients get results. This is especially important when you consider that certain optimization techniques that worked in the past such as link building can now get your site penalized in the search results.

Because of that, it is important to thoroughly vet any search engine marketing companies that you are planning on hiring to work on your website. A good place to start is by asking for a list of sites that they have worked on in the past. This can help you see firsthand how these sites are currently ranking in the search results. If the sites aren’t showing up on the first page for keywords that are related to the products or services that they offer, you should probably keep looking into you find a company that is more qualified.

You also need to be sure that the company you hire to work on your site provides excellent communication. They should not only keep you up to date with the changes that they are making to your site, but also with how your site’s ranking is changing over time. This can help you make sure that your money is being well spent.

Finally, you need to choose a company that is realistic about their expectations. If a company promises to get your site to the number one spot in the search engines, you should choose a different search engine marketing company instead. It is not possible to know for sure whether or not a site will ever achieve a top listing. Instead, they should clearly outline their overall optimization strategy for you, explaining how each step that they are going to take will benefit your site rather than making promises that they can’t keep.

 

If your website doesn’t show up on the first page of search results on Google, Bing or Yahoo, your potential customers might not even know you exist. Better search engine visibility can be critical to boosting visits to your website, which can lead to increased brand awareness and higher sales and profits.

But what if you lack the time and technical expertise to improve your site’s search engine ranking? It might make sense to hire an experienced, reliable search engine optimization (SEO) consultant.

Here are 10 essential questions to ask when considering prospective SEO consultants:

1. May I have a list of current and past clients?
A reputable SEO consultant should be open to sharing a brief list of current and former clients and his or her contact information, says Vanessa Fox, author of Marketing in the Age of Google (Wiley, 2012) and founder of Nine By Blue, a Seattle-based SEO software provider.

These references can help you gauge how effective the candidate is, as well as verify that the person did indeed work on specific SEO campaigns. Clients may not provide specific analytics, Fox says, but they should be able to at least tell you if they saw a positive impact on their search ranking, especially in conversions and in gaining an audience, as a direct result of the consultant’s efforts.

2. How will you improve my search engine rankings?
Steer clear of SEO consultants who won’t freely discuss their methods in detail, cautions Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, a Seattle-based internet marketing software company and co-author of The Art of SEO (O’Reilly, 2012). They should explain the strategies they would use to drive up your website’s search engine ranking, as well as estimate how long it could realistically take to achieve the SEO campaign goals you agree on.

Make sure the candidate’s proposal includes an initial technical review of your website to weed out any problems that could lower your search engine ranking, including broken links and error pages. Consultants also should provide “on page” optimization, a process to make your website as search engine friendly as possible. It involves improving your website’s URL and internal linking structure, along with developing web page titles, headings and tags.

Also, ask consultants if they provide “off page” SEO strategies to raise awareness of your content on other websites, often via blogs, social media platforms and press releases.

3. Do you adhere to search engines’ webmaster guidelines?
You want a consultant who strictly abides by Google’s publicly posted webmaster best practices, which specifically prohibit 12 common SEO tricks, including automatically generating spammy content and adding bogus hidden text and links. If a candidate doesn’t follow those guidelines, your website could be relegated to a dismally low search results ranking. Or, worse yet, Google could ban it from search results altogether.

Bing and Yahoo also post webmaster best practices that consultants should confirm they follow.

4. Can you guarantee my website will achieve a number-one ranking on Google, Bing and Yahoo?
If the candidate answers yes, Fox warns, “Turn and run in the other direction as fast as you can.” Although it’s impossible to guarantee a number-one ranking on any search engine, she says, some unethical SEO consultants do make such bogus guarantees.

Consider it a red flag if the candidate claims to have an insider relationship with Google or any other search engine that will get you priority search results rankings. Only Google, Bing and Yahoo can control how high or low websites appear in their search results.

5. Are you experienced at improving local search results?
Appearing in the top local search engine results is especially important to small brick-and-mortar businesses trying to attract nearby customers, Rand says. You’ll want a consultant who has expertise in local SEO techniques.

If your website is optimized for what’s known as “local SEO,” it should appear when someone nearby is searching for keywords that are relevant to your business. To achieve that, a consultant should add your business’s city and state to your website’s title tags and meta descriptions, and get your site listed on Bing, Google and Yahoo’s local listings, which are online directories of businesses that cater to a specific geographical area.

6. Will you share with me all changes you make to my site?
Search engine optimization will most likely require a number of changes to your existing web page coding. It’s important to know exactly what adjustments the consultant plans to make and on how many web pages. If you would like the candidate to get your permission before accessing and altering your website code, be sure to say so.

 

Read more: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227229

Making The Most Of Your Search Marketing Strategy

Business owners know that in order to be successful, advertising and marketing is essential. It does not matter what goods or services you offer, if customers don’t know about you, then your business will not thrive. Since we now live in a technological age, marketing is more important than ever before and just having a website is not enough, you have to be found on the search engines so that you can grow your customer base. This means that you will need to target niche keywords that potential customers are using to search for the services or goods that you supply.

Many businesses will try to save money and do a bit of search marketing themselves, they might take part in beginner’s class or buy a book or DVD to give them a bit of insight into search marketing. What these people might not realise or understand, is that this type of marketing takes in a number of different strategies. It is therefore advisable to engage a specialist SEO company who can undertake the work and make sure that it is done properly and within the rules of the search engines.

Doing search marketing takes time, effort and a certain level of skill in order to achieve results that will drive more quality traffic to the site. By hiring an internet marketing firm, you will be buying the services and expertise of people who really know what they are doing. It will save you time and money in the long run. Remember that marketing is just one aspect of running your business and you will be better served spending your valuable time on other areas where your own expertise can be harnessed.

Another benefit of using an online marketing firm is that you could well have an advantage over the competition, particularly if they are not doing much marketing or are doing it themselves. A new business or one that needs a bit of a boost will certainly make advances in their rankings by making use of expert services. There will be a range of services on offer and although you will be spending money on these, you will reap the rewards and start making money when the website starts converting traffic.

Remember that you also need to ensure that your website is accessible from mobile devices. This is important because it is a fact that more and more searches are being made from mobiles and you do not want to miss out on high levels of potential customers. Even if your site is just for information about your business, it is still important that you make sure that prospective clients can visit your website from their device. So, talk to us today about how we can help you with your search marketing campaign and what you would like to achieve.

 

 

The last few years, search engines such as Google, Bing, and even Apple, have been upgrading their algorithms and machine learning processes to account for the end-user’s experience. But, since their algorithms are built upon the work completed by automated crawling bots (pieces of software that manually scour the internet), it has always been difficult for them to truly simulate the actions of a flesh and blood user. And it’s not feasible for them to create an algorithm that’s based on the anecdotal feedback of an army of individual users that submit their findings.

Instead the search engines have started to write logic and incorporate machine learning algorithms that based on vast troves of user behavior metrics, to their best estimation, is what a user experience should be on a website. Some of the criteria they are now measuring are site speed, mobile optimization, site structure, content, and dozens of other signals that should give the algorithm an idea of whether or not search engine users are getting what they expect from a website.

So, what does this mean for companies, marketers, and website owners when it comes to their SEO?

Basically what I, and dozens of other SEO industry experts, have been writing about for years has now come to fruition. We’ve exited the era of search engine optimization (SEO), and have now entered the new age of search experience optimization (also… SEO).

And this is great news for anyone that performs digital marketing correctly. It means that “gaming” the system has become less and less viable, and that groups who rely on black hat techniques are seeing their efforts become less effective.

So, how should websites be optimized for the search engines now that user experience plays such a big role?

Ask Questions, Provide Answers

Previously, marketers used to obsess over ideas like keyword density, meta descriptions, and link profiles. They had everything down to percentages and numbers and it all made sense when it was placed into an excel sheet. But how on earth was a website that was built from data on an excel sheet supposed to appeal to a human being?

That’s the problem the search engines set out to fix. And you need to accommodate the changes they’ve made.

Specifically, you need to think about your website visitors at every stage of your web design and marketing process. And this can be done easily with a series of question and answer audits you can ask yourself as you’re creating your marketing campaign.

For instance, if you’re designing a web page and you’re wondering how to make it appear in the Google search results, you should start by asking what your customers are typing into the search engine. This sounds rudimentary, but think it through for a moment. Previously marketers would optimize for terms such as “snow tires” or “weight loss products”. But search habits have become more semantic and people are no longer typing in general terms, but rather they’re asking questions.

Thus, the search term “snow tires” has evolved into, “what are the best snow tires for a 2008 Ford F150?”

And it’s the companies that are answering the questions for their customers that are starting to win in the search engine rankings. So, stop fretting over how many times you mention the keyword in the content you’re writing on the page, and instead start asking yourself what your customers need help with.

Embrace Mobile

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 years, you may be shocked to hear that most people use smart phones and that smart phone searches now account for a more search volume than desktop searches. However, if you’ve been living in the world with the rest of us, this isn’t too surprising. So, if everyone is using mobile devices to browse the web, shouldn’t you likewise be optimizing your site for mobile traffic?

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/miketempleman/2016/02/16/seo-has-evolved-to-search-experience-optimization/2/#4930c0402bac

What is Unique Content and Why Is It Important?

When it comes to getting better rankings you will hear all SEO’s saying, “you need Good Unique Content as that is what Google wants now“. But what does this really mean?

Many have taken this to mean that all sites have to do is to create copy which is not duplicated somewhere else on the web and is also a good read, using proper English throughout.

Can Google Really Tell What is Good?

When you think of it, that should (and maybe is) enough for Google in that their systems however powerful, cannot really deduce what is ‘good’ and ‘useful’ content, that is still really a job only a human can do.

So, the first step is to write some good copy, that is not itself used anywhere else and make it is over 1,000 words long (that seems to be lowest level that Google seems to ‘like’). If you can then include some images and if possible video on the page and link out to a high power site (one in the same niche / market area), one that provides some ‘back up’ to the page, i.e. a page that provides the facts and figures referred to, being the best.

You will then need some links in to the page, but before we come to that, we need to work out why links are needed?

When Considering SEO You Have to Think Like a Computer

Here you have to start thinking like a computer, looking at things logically and asking yourself the question, “If I was a computer what would I look for if I was trying to decide if this page was any good or not?”

We have seen above that Google checks the words on the page, but that does not give it any idea about the real value of the content, only humans can do that, and as far as Google is concerned, this is signified by a page having been shared, liked, linked to or otherwise mentioned by others on the Web.

Finally, it seems that Google then, being a lot cleverer than it used to be, now also checks to see how many visits a page / site gets, this for the simple reason that a site/page cannot get lots of links or mentions if it has not been visited in the first place. Whilst this is not strictly true ( a site can get a lot of links from a Press Release without a single visitor going to a page) it is an indication that all is how it should be and that the site/page has not been subject to (too much) manipulation in SEO terms.

As you can see, there is a lot more than first comes to mind when considering what you should add to your website…

To read more on the subject of what makes unique content please click the link.

Modern criteria for content

So let’s start by talking about our modern criteria for content, and I have a slide that I like to show a lot that kind of displays this, and many other folks in the field have as well. So if I’m going to be producing content, I need to meet these five criteria.

One of a kind

One of a kind is basically what we meant when we said old unique content, meaning that the engines have never seen those words and phrases and numbers and visuals and whatever in that order on a page on the web previously. It’s been written for the first time, produced and published for the first time. Therefore, it is one of a kind, doesn’t appear elsewhere.

Relevant

Relevant meaning it contains content that both searchers and engines interpret as on topic to that searcher’s query or their intent. Sometimes you can be on topic to the query, meaning you’ve used the words and the phrases that the searcher used, and not be on topic to their intent. What did they actually want to get out of the search? What question are they trying to answer? What information are you trying to get?

Helpful

This one’s pretty obvious. You should resolve the searcher’s query in a useful, efficient manner. That should be a page that does the job that they’re hoping that that content is going to do.

Uniquely valuable

This is the one we’re going to be talking about today, and what we mean here is provides information that’s unavailable or hard to get elsewhere — I’m going to dive into that a little bit more —

Great user experience

This means it’s easy and pleasurable to consume anywhere on any device.

You meet these criteria with your content and you’ve really got something when it comes to a content marketing strategy or when it comes to content you’re producing for SEO. This is a pretty solid checklist that I think you can rely on.

Unique value and you (and your website)

The challenge is this one. Uniquely valuable has been a really hard concept for people to wrap their heads around, and so let’s dig in a little more on what we mean when we say “unique value.”

So these are kind of the three common criteria that we mean when we say “unique value,” and I’m actually going to show some examples as well.

1) Massive upgrade in aggregation, accessibility and design

The first one is a massive upgrade versus what’s already available on the web in aggregation, accessibility, and/or design. Meaning you should have someone who views that content say, “Wow. You know, I’ve seen this material presented before, but never presented so well, never so understandable and accessible. I really like this resource because of how well aggregated, how accessible, how well designed this resource is.”

Good examples, there’s a blog post from the website Wait But Why on the Fermi Paradox, which is sort of a scientific astrophysics, “why are we alone in the universe” paradox concept, and they do a brilliant job of visualizing and explaining the paradox and all of the potential scenarios behind it. It’s so much fun to read. It’s so enjoyable. I’ve read about the Fermi Paradox many times and never been as entranced as I was as when I read this piece from Wait But Why. It really was that experience that says, “Wow, I’ve seen this before, but never like this.”

Another great site that does pure aggregation, but they provide incredible value is actually a search engine, a visual search engine that I love called Niice.co. Not particularly easy to spell, but you do searches for things like letter press or for emotional ideas, like anger, and you just find phenomenal visual content. It’s an aggregation of a bunch of different websites that show design and visual content in a search interface that’s accessible, that shows all the images in there, and you can scroll through them and it’s very nicely collected. It’s aggregated in the best way I’ve ever seen that information aggregated, therefore, providing unique value. Unfortunately, since it’s a search engine, it’s not actually going to be indexed by Google, but still tremendously good content marketing.

2) Information that is available nowhere else

Number two is information that’s available nowhere else. When I say “information,” I don’t mean content. I don’t mean words and phrases. I don’t mean it’s one-of-a-kind in that if I were to go copy and paste a sentence fragment or a paragraph and plug it into Google, that I wouldn’t find that sentence or that paragraph elsewhere. I mean unique information, information that, even if it were written about thousands of different ways, I couldn’t find it anywhere else on the web. You want your visitor to have experience of, “Wow, without this site I never would have found the answers I sought.” It’s not that, “Oh, this sentence is unique to all the other sentences that have been written about this topic.” It’s, “Ah-ha this information was never available until now.”

Some of my favorite examples of that — Walk Score. Walk Score is a site that took data that was out there and they basically put it together into a scoring function. So they said, “Hey, in this ocean beach neighborhood in San Diego, there are this many bars and restaurants, grocery stores, banks, pharmacies. The walkability of that neighborhood, therefore, based on the businesses and on the sidewalks and on the traffic and all these other things, the Walk Score out of 100 is therefore 74.” I don’t know what it actually is. Then you can compare and contrast that to, say, the Hillcrest neighborhood in San Diego, where the Walk Score is 88 because it has a far greater density of all those things that people, who are looking for walkability of neighborhoods, are seeking. If you’re moving somewhere or you’re considering staying somewhere downtown, in area to visit for vacation, this is amazing. What an incredible resource, and because of that Walk Score has become hugely popular and is part of many, many real estate websites and visitor and tourism focused websites and all that kind of stuff.

Another good example, blog posts that provide information that was previously unavailable anywhere else. In our industry I actually really like this example from Conductor. Conductor, as you might know, is an enterprise SEO software company, and they put together a phenomenal blog post comparing which portions of direct traffic are almost certainly actually organic, and they collected a bunch of anonymized data from their platform and assembled that so that we could all see, “Oh, yeah, look at that. Sixty percent of what’s getting counted as direct in a lot of these websites, at least on average, is probably coming from organic search or dark social and those kinds of things, and that credit should go to the marketers who acquire that traffic.” Fascinating stuff. Unique information, couldn’t find that elsewhere.

3) Content presented with a massively differentiated voice or style

The third and final one that I’ll talk about is content that’s presented with a massively differentiated voice or style. So this is not necessarily you’ve aggregated information that was previously unavailable or you’ve made it more accessible or you’ve designed it in a way to make it remarkable. It’s not necessarily information available nowhere else. It’s really more about the writer or the artist behind the content creation, and content creators, the great ones, have some artistry to their work. You’re trying to create in your visitors this impression of like, “I’ve seen stuff about this before, but never in a way that emotionally resonated with me like this does.” Think about the experience that you have of reading a phenomenal book about a topic versus just reading the Wikipedia entry.

The information might be the same, but there are miles of difference in the artistry behind it and the emotional resonance it can create.

Is Your Online Presence Failing to Sell?: Here Are 4 Reasons Why

There is an old saying in that ‘you can bring the horse to water but you cannot make them drink’ and never has one been so accurate when talking about web traffic…

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From an SEO or Social Media point of view, getting traffic to a site is the first big goal, but it has to be the right sort of traffic and then the site must do its job and get them to engage, taking a ‘sip’ if not a big gulp.

The Engagement Process

A part of this ‘engagement process’ is of course down to design, it has to appeal (very quickly) to the browser, or risk loosing them in those vital first seconds.

The next thing of course is the content of the page. Is it what the customer wants?, your Bounce Rates will tell you (and Google too if they come from a search) so need to be constantly rewiewed, just in case you are not doing things the way that your customers want, these after all being the final arbiter…

The site’s content and the way it approaches it’s customers is therefore key. It does not matter how many potential customers (horses) you deliver to a site if the ‘water’ does not look good and tasty.

Getting on the Customers Shortlist

But what is ‘tasty?’ A very good question and one that will change depending on what the site is about and where in the buying cycle your customer is. The article below covers this in one of it’s points saying in effect that those who are just starting in their quest are looking for very general data and thus don’t want the full nine words on your product / service, but just an initial description. If you get on their shortllist they will be back..

Besides the issue of good ‘useful’ content, there is the matter of Re-Engagement. This is another topic and one that we will come back too in the future, but it is important as just because the visitor does not buy today, does not mean that they might not buy tomorrow, so keeping in contact and reminding them that you are there waiting to serve them, is a good idea.

For the full article on Why your site is not converting, please click the link.

The cheese moved. The buying process has changed. Technology to support and further that change continues to grow and evolve. Communicating through the vast array of digital channels (website, SEM, social, email) is no longer an option. It is a must-do.

The online presence of your business must attract and convert prospects. It must engage with leads through a variety of channels as users travel through a longer and more complex buying cycle.

How we market and communicate online has come a long way from static, brochure-like internet pages and “spray-and-pray” email blasts. Unfortunately, for many, online marketing is still failing to reach its full potential.

Pointing a finger at the underlying technology would be easy, e.g., marketing automation, content management systems or any of the tools and solutions laid out in Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Super Graphic.

It’s easy to say the technology is failing, so the marketing effort is failing. But the reality is more complex. Here are four of the biggest reasons why your online presence is failing to drive sales.

Engagement For The Wrong Reasons

Using engagement tactics that are not aligned with business goals is a huge waste of time and money. Too often, I see engagement for engagement’s sake. This results in leads stagnated in the buying cycle and low-volume sales funnels.

Having a high number of Twitter followers or a successful content syndication program is great, but that is not success.

CMOs are being judged on sales. And following your brand or downloading an asset is not a sale.

Social followers matter. They are your advocates. They can extend your message.

But focusing on the number of followers and not their engagement and conversion ratios results in negative ROI for the money spent to generate them. It also takes the marketing eye off the important goal of a sale.

Weak Commitment To Prospects

Generating new leads through content syndication or SEM is the start of the buyer’s journey. Most leads are not ready to buy at that point.

So not using retargeting or nurture programs to bring them back for further communication is a waste of the money spent to find them to begin with.

When they fail to travel along the pipeline because they are left to rot somewhere between the marketing and sales organization, it reflects negatively on the organization.

Lack Of Good Content

Everywhere I look, the numbers show an increase in content marketing spend and usage. Businesses are spending millions to have content developed — to tell their story, engage with their prospects, and help convert their leads through the buying cycle.

And yet much of what is used to attract and engage leads is sales enablement content. It’s all about features and functions. Or it’s focused on selling something, rather than trying to educate.

Take, for example, the content used in top-of-funnel nurture programs. More times than I care to remember, I’ve seen programs use 45-minute product webinars or 20-page product briefs.

Breakdown happens when leads don’t engage, and the prospects in the funnel dry up. This is because leads in the early buying cycle don’t want to know everything about the product, and they don’t want to be sold to. Rather, they want to know what the options are and what to consider as they do their research.

Marketing Teams Are Not Living In The Now

Stagnating means not going to where your customers are by using better ways and different channels to communicate with them online. It results in low communication. And poor communication results in low sales.

SEO in 2015 – What Has Changed and By How Much?

There is always a lot of talk about how SEO is changing all the time and to a degree this is true. It is however more about the change in quantity of each part of the ‘SEO Recipe’ than the addition of new factors. However saying that, new factors do arise and in 2015 three have been added to the list of factors that affect the rankings of a site, these being ‘Vertical Search’,  ‘Direct Answers’ and ‘HTTPS’.

Positive SEO Factors

The changes in the recipe are reflected by ‘movements, both positive and negative’ in the amount that each item is likely to affect any rankings. There is no doubt some truth to much of this, but the fact of the matter is that Google only uses any of its own rules as a guide to how it will rate a site, and often seems to list sites that, based on the rules that we know simply do not deserve that high page ranking.

It must also be said that the experiments / research that have led to the publication of the data and table below cannot be said to be totally scientific, for the simple reason that there are too many variables influencing  the rankings gained. However, saying all this, the data is useful and for my part seems to be following the path / trend of Semantic SEO.

Quality Content is Good for SEO

The first indication that this is the case comes in the very first part of the SEO Periodic Table, the ‘Cq’ (for Quality of the Content’) being give an +3 factor, the ‘symbol’ below, for Research into the Keywords that you want to rank for, also being given a +3. The latter I feel really relates to the fact that this research leads on to the inclusion of the ‘right’ words on a page, words that are relevant to the search term targeted AND ones that Google ‘expects to see’.

The latter point is an interesting by the way, as it is all about the ‘Reverse Engineering’ of web pages. The process is simple enough. You decide upon the target phrase, then discover the top sites on Google for that phrase and what words are found on the majority. It stands to reason then, that using the same words (as far as is possible and looks right) on a page on a site will increase the possibility of that page being ranked for the target phrase.

This is all music to the copy writers ears, as now, besides the target words, they are also provided with a list of words to use as well as an indication to which are the most important.

However, to get back to the SEO table,  we can see the words on the pages actually has its own symbol, the with a +2.

Other factors are ‘old’ ones, but with their ‘power’ updated to take into account how much they appear to affect rankings today in 2015. One that is especially interesting is the ‘Hd’ symbol (for Meta Description). This is indeed a factor that has been around for many years now, but today, it has another way of altering the rankings of its page.

This change stems from the ‘SEO Feedback Loop’ that Google is now suspected of running. Here the CTR (Click Through Rate) % of all the links on a Google SERPS result are checked, the idea being that if a page is listed but only gets a low CTR there must be something wrong with the way it is listed and this of course is the owners fault.

The owner can of course monitor low CTR by checking on Webmaster Tools (Now Google Search Console) and then make some changes (to the Meta Description) in order to boost the CTR. However, if they don’t and the pages CTR continues to be low,  the page may lose it’s SERP’s listing (or at least be demoted), thus the need to make sure it is right becomes obvious  and why the power of the Meta Description has been increased.

Mobile Friendly Sites

Another change is that of the symbol ‘Am’ for mobile. This has increased by 2 points as well, and of course refers to the need for all sites to be Mobile Friendly.

On the other hand, we have those factors that have a Negative effect on rankings, all the old favourites like ‘paid links’ (Vp) , Keyword Stuffing (Vs) and Spammy links (VI) being present.

As I say, it is the quantity of each component of recipe that changes, not the (for the most part at least) the actual components.

The article (and table) is a good read though and I’d recommend it, and thank the hardworking staff at SearchEngineLand for it too.

The latest version of Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors is now out. This is the third edition since we first launched our search engine optimization framework in 2011. Below, a rundown of what’s new and changed, as well as a reintroduction to the table.

The Table’s Goal & Philosophy

Our goal with the Periodic Table Of SEO is to help publishers focus on the fundamentals needed to achieve success with search engine optimization. This means it’s not about trying to list all 200 Google ranking factors or detail Google’s 10,000 subfactors. It’s not about trying to advise if keywords you want to rank for should go at the beginning of an HTML title tag or the end. It’s not about whether or not Facebook Likes are counted for ranking boosts.

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

http://searchengineland.com/seotable/download-periodic-table-of-seo

Instead, the table is designed to broadly guide those new to or experienced with SEO into general areas of importance. Title tags are generally important. Think about making sure they’re descriptive. Social sharing is often generally seen as good for SEO. Aim for social shares, without worrying about the specific network.

If you want to understand more about the philosophy of the table, read our posts from when the table debuted in 2011 and when it was updated in 2013.

What The SEO Table Covers

There are two major classes of factors:

On-The-Page: factors that are largely within the control of publishers
Off-The-Page: factors are influenced often by others or not directly tied to a publisher’s site
Within these two classes are seven categories of factors, which are:

Content – factors relating to the content and quality of your material
Architecture – factors about your overall site functionality
HTML – factors specific to web pages
Trust – factors related to how trustworthy & authoritative a site seems to be
Links – factors related to how links impact rankings
Personal – factors about how personalized search results influence rankings
Social – factors on how social recommendations impact rankings
Overall, there are 37 individual factors, which range from making use of descriptive HTML title tags to whether a site has success with visitor engagement. Here’s a close-up of the table, focusing on just the factors:

Mo Farah – Drug Testing – SMS Messaging and Newsjacking

You cannot have failed to notice all the ‘fuss’ about Mo Farah and drugs testing at the moment, it’s the sort of news that the press just love…

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Image by Ronnie Macdonald via Flickr

 Newsjacking

Such news items are however also a great time to do a spot of ‘Newsjacking’ where with a bit of creative thought, you can ride the wave a little and promote a relevant business or product.

So, when I listened to the news and found out, to my surprise that all athletes had to register where they would be an hour an hour a day for the next three months, AND BE SURE TO BE THERE, just in case an unannounced dope test was scheduled for then, I thought, WOW, this is just where one of the clients of SOM could really, really help out.

The client in question is FastSMS, the service they provide being SMS messaging. You will no doubt have received text messages from your Doctor, the dentist, your garage, etc reminding you of a future appointment (and if has not happened it soon will, as long as you have a mobile phone that is).

SMS Messaging in Action

Thus, when I heard that these poor athletes have to remember to be somewhere (up to three months in advance) I thought, is not this a great application for SMS Text messaging?

All you would need to do is to have a mobile phone number associated with an Athletes entry into the ‘Where I will be’ Dope Testing system and a little bit of ‘programming magic’ that sends them a text the day before saying where they ‘have to be’ tomorrow, with another 2 hrs before.

JOB DONE, I reckon, no excuses and less hassle for all.

I have had a word with FastSMS and they are looking into this right now, and will soon have a post up on their blog, they are even considering offering this service to the dope testing people at UKAD.

This is a good example of ‘NewsJacking’, in a positive manner and should be born in mind by just about any business there is….

Mo Farah put his hopes of competing at London 2012 at risk by allegedly missing two drugs tests in the buildup to the Games and was warned by his coach Alberto Salazar that “they will hang you if you miss another”.

Under World-Anti Doping rules, a third missed test within the space of 12 months is the equivalent of a failed drugs test – and so would have left Farah, who went on to take 5,000m and 10,000m gold in London, facing a minimum of a two-year ban.

According to the Daily Mail, which has seen an email exchange between the UK Anti-Doping Agency and Farah’s representatives, Farah missed one test in 2010 and another in early 2011 shortly after he had joined Salazar’s training group in Oregon..

See the full article

Google’s New Tweet Section. What Will It Mean For You?

We have seen Tweets in the Google Search results before, so this is not new, but I suspect that the way they are being chosen and integrated is different this time around.

Tweets Showing in Google's SERP's Again
Public domain from pixabay

From a marketing perspective though, all that matters is that it is happening and that therefore any business should start thinking that bit more seriously about using Social Media and Twitter to better effect.

As I have mentioned previously, Social Media is important for SEO too, it being an increasingly important factor in the way Google chooses what site to list. This makes Oscar Wilde’s comment “There is only one thing in life worsr then being talked about, and that is not being talked about” even truer, if for different reasons…

The other thing to take from this interesting article is that by the looks of it, the hashtag #, could be being used to selec

Google and Twitter have been teasing us with a new integration of tweets into Google search results for months, but this week they finally made the official announcement. Real-time tweets are now showing in Google search results on mobile devices with desktop integration to come soon.

The integration takes the form of a carousel that appears in search results, which lets you swipe sideways to see various tweets. It only appears on some searches, and it’s unclear how and when exactly Google decides to show them. The examples we’ve seen have been for Twitter profile searches, celebrity searches, and newsy/trendy topic searches.

The placement of the tweets in search results varies. I assume it’s based on now relevant Google feels those tweets are to a particular search. If the search is related to an event, perhaps Google will be more likely to show them toward the top while it’s actually happening. I’m only speculating.

Google isn’t saying much of anything about how it determines what tweets to show or how it shows them. It’s refusing to answer questions about this, and the blog posts from both Twitter and Google on the integration are pretty short and vague. It’s easy to understand why this would be the case. They don’t want people to game the system and abuse the feature.

It’s entirely possible that we’re only seeing the very beginning of what Google will ultimately do with its newfound tweet access. We spoke with Stone Temple Consulting’s Eric Enge about the new integration, and he believes Google will be doing a lot of experimenting and potentially evolving its use of the tweets.

Earlier this year, after Google’s deal with Twitter was announced, we had a conversation with Enge about some studies his company had conducted, including one that analyzed Google’s use of tweets at the time. There were a lot of interesting findings in those, which you can learn more about here. Now that the new integration is live, we wanted to see what Enge thought about it, and if he can see any validations or contradictions to what the study found. Here’s what he told us:

Right now the integration between Google and Twitter is quite light. Currently, it’s only visible from Smartphone devices. In addition, it’s clear that they are experimenting. For example, when you search on a name, such as “Taylor Swift”, you see tweets that she has put out there. Yet, the initial release showed tweets that mentioned her. This is typical of Google, where they experiment with different implementations to see what works best, before settling on one for the longer term. I expect this experimentation to continue.

What this means for visibility in the short term is not much at all. This process is in the very early stages. Think of this as Google proving that they can access, process, and leverage the data from the Twitter firehose. I’d expect more substantial integration sometime soon. The whole process may take months to play out.

What I’d love to see is Google do something involving personalization related to Twitter. I.e., if you share a link in a tweet, and then later search on a related topic, that particular article might rank higher in the search results. I have no way to know if they are getting enough info to implement something like this, but it would be a very cool feature for them to be able to add.

As you know, our two most well-known studies on Twitter evaluated how Google Indexes tweets, and how to maximize Twitter engagement. The current integration tests between Google and Twitter don’t really feature anything that would dramatically change the conclusions of either of those studies. I think the real story is yet to come.

Frankly, I expect both studies to change. Twitter indexing could well skyrocket, as our indexing study showed indexation rates for Tweets of just over 7%. Imagine if this jumps to 50% or more. This could be a huge deal!

In addition, the simple act of rendering tweets in search results will not create a new source of engagement, which is whether or not you are able to get displayed. In particular, how timely are you with Tweeting our news. If you are fast with this, your tweet will get far more attention than ever before.

Overall, I think this initial integration is big news because it’s the start of a process. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the story unfolds!

It does seem like Google may use hashtag searches as an indication of when users might want to see tweets. While not all hashtag searches yield twitter results, others mainly related to things that are being talked about a lot at the time do.

Under Google’s previous Twitter deal, it had a realtime search feature, which included tweets in addition to content from other services. It would be cool if they could bring content from other sources like Instagram, Facebook, etc. into the carousel, at least for hashtag searches as hashtags extend well beyond the Twittervese these days. Either way, Google’s approach seems like all the more reason to include hashtags in tweets for visibility purposes. It is unclear how often people are actually searching Google for hashtags however.

Please see the full article at http://www.webpronews.com/what-does-googles-new-tweet-section-mean-for-you-2015-05

Semantic SEO and Google, the (not so) Blind Man

In some of my previous posts, and when discussing SEO with my clients, I’ve often alluded to Google being like a blind man in a department store. I used this analogy as, without some help, both the man and Google could easily get lost and not be sure that they were in the right place.

In the case of the blind man, this would result in him leaving the store without making a purchase (perhaps never to return); in Google’s case it could mean that they will not understand what the site is really all about. This could be catastrophic as far as getting rankings for just about anything is concerned.

Leaving signposts on your web pages

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Of course, in a store you have Braille signs, but what is the equivalent on a website? The answer is of course the Meta Title, Description and Header tags of the pages. Using these to inform Google about the content of the pages is a great first step; even though it’s very much part of the ‘Old SEO’ it’s still vital today.

Google ‘the not so blind man’ and old and new SEO

Even with all of its power and the new SEO practices that it’s forcing us all to follow, Google is still like a blind man in that it needs help to ensure that it gets the right end of the proverbial stick. There is however a huge difference between Google of old and the one that is evolving before our eyes.

If you’re of a certain age, you may remember the TV series Kung Fu. In it, David Carradine stared as a Shaolin monk (Kwai Chang Caine) who, through the training he received, became a martial arts expert. However, it’s not David that’s interesting here, but his mentor, Master Po. Po was totally blind, yet he could ‘see’ everything, pointing out the grasshopper at the feet of the young Kwai Chang – something the latter, even with his perfect vision, had missed.

Today, Google is like Master Po: it can’t see everything, but it can see a lot and all that it does see is taken into account when considering what site to rank for what. But it’s vitally important to understand how it is planning (and to some degree already is) to use this enormous amount of data. That’s because this is the big difference between old and new SEO.

Old SEO equals keyword matching

To be fair, old SEO was more than simply matching a keyword phrase to the ‘best’ sites for that term; even the old systems had 200 or so ‘factors’ that were taken into account. But in the end, it was mostly to do with how well the ‘signposts’ you placed on a site (be they in the Titles, Headers or copy, not to mention all those links) matched the keyword phrase; that’s what really counted.

This of course led to gaming of the system. SEO companies would alter the pages of a site to SHOUT the target keywords to Google. And to reinforce the message they’d create thousands of links to reinforce the message. Pages without any real merit reached the top of the listings and Google came out with more and more rules to try to combat the situation. It was a time of new trick after new trick, with each one being found out and the gains it had brought removed. But it worked, and to some degree still does.

The days of Old SEO are numbered

Google, it seems, concluded that it wasn’t going to continue with this ‘arms race’. Instead, it would change the game entirely. In my view, it didn’t do this out of spite; I believe Google just wanted to ensure that it would always be able to pick the best sites for any phrase and never be tricked again.

This was no mean task, but Google has a plan based on the fact that, instead of just matching keywords to sites, they will (try to) look beyond the words to the meaning of the search phrase – in other words, what you or I, as searchers, are really looking for.

This was one of the reasons for the introduction of the Hummingbird update (technically this was more like changing the engine than replacing a part of it, but let’s call it an update for simplicity). In doing so, Google wanted to be better able to understand what people wanted when they used the new Voice Search feature on smartphones. (By the way, according to the experts, the reason for this is that people express things differently when speaking, compared to when they write them down.)

The reason it’s called Semantic SEO

This leads nicely to the reason this whole process is called Semantic SEO. Semantic is a Greek word that means ‘meaning’. As Google is trying to work out what the intent (and what it really means) behind a search phrase is, this has led to the whole process being called Semantic SEO.

Google does more than just try to work out what the real user intent behind a search phrase is. In order to come up with matches in its database of sites, it must also understand the real meaning of any page. To do this, it must work out what the content is trying to say; that is, how it can help, inform and entertain.

It is thus vital to understand what message you are trying to put across with any content. You can read more advice on this in the next post.

But how does Semantic SEO work?

This is the big question for anyone who wants the best rankings possible for any relevant search phrases. But it’s here that we hit the first real change. You see, even though keywords still have their importance, they’re not the be-all and end-all that they used to be. That’s because Google no longer relies on simple keyword matching.

So, if Google isn’t using the words on pages to decide what it should list, what is it using? This is where it gets tricky to explain; basically, Google will look at the information, the real meaning of a page and the site it is part of, and the purpose behind its creation. It will also look at what others say about it (and on it in the case of comments) before deciding if this matches the meaning behind the search phrase.

Being found when you’re not even being searched for

This is what Serendipitous Search is all about. It’s another another huge change to the old SEO because Google is now more of an ‘answer engine’ that provides suggestions for sites it thinks might be useful – even though they don’t include the keywords being searched for.

The more you make your site answer the questions and needs of your potential customers, the more Google traffic you will give you.

 

Semantic SEO and the feedback loop

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This is another very interesting (and potentially scary) thing about the new Google. Not only does it look at the words on pages, their meaning, links to and from a page, and social media comments (as well as who made them). Google also looks at the data it has gleaned from the billions of searches it makes every day and sees how each one went.

This means that every time a site is listed, Google can tell how popular that site was from the CTR (click-through rate) to the site. It has been using this methodology for years with Pay per click (AdWords); adverts getting the best CTR are charged less than those with low CTR. With organic listings there is of course no payment. But if a site’s Title and Description don’t get people to click on the link, Google will eventually notice and simply stop giving that page a listing for that term. You can imagine that, if this happens too often, a whole site could just disappear from the rankings. So beware and do check the CTR in your Webmaster Tools.

There’s more too. You see, a site could well have a really great Title and wonderful descriptive text causing all who see it to click through. You might think that’s good news, but if the site doesn’t live up to the visitor’s expectations and they click back to Google to try again, Google will notice this – and conclude that, for that term at least, the site doesn’t deliver the goods. As with poor CTR, this could eventually lead to the site not being listed at all.

Google will also use the feedback process to ‘learn’ what people want to see in the first place, which helps it understand what the meaning of the search was really likely to be about. This allows Google to make its best guess about what sites it should list for any term, and then just sit back and wait to see how people react. If they click on a site and don’t bounce, then they’ve got it right. But if they bounce they haven’t, so Google ‘learns’ with every decision searchers make. What’s more, it will never forget and will keep updating its knowledge all the time. Spooky, eh?

There’s more too. You see, a site could well have a really great Title and wonderful descriptive text causing all who see it to click through. You might think that’s good news, but if the site doesn’t live up to the visitor’s expectations and they click back to Google to try again, Google will notice this – and conclude that, for that term at least, the site doesn’t deliver the goods. As with poor CTR, this could eventually lead to the site not being listed at all.

Google will also use the feedback process to ‘learn’ what people want to see in the first place, which helps it understand what the meaning of the search was really likely to be about. This allows Google to make its best guess about what sites it should list for any term, and then just sit back and wait to see how people react. If they click on a site and don’t bounce, then they’ve got it right. But if they bounce they haven’t, so Google ‘learns’ with every decision searchers make. What’s more, it will never forget and will keep updating its knowledge all the time. Spooky, eh?

The above process is made even more powerful by the fact that, just as Google can deduce what a page or a site is about (and therefore what answers and information it gives), when it really does satisfy a user it can then deduce the original intent. This is yet another part of the great feedback loop.

Semantic SEO and gaming the system

As we’ve seen, it’s the copy and how well the message and meaning of a site is put across to Google and any visitor, that really counts in the end. The former to get a listing in the first place; the latter, in effect, to keep it.

There is, of course, more to convincing Google than the copy, though I think this will take the lion’s share. Inbound and outbound linking, the social media signal and the level of interaction (including sharing) are also major factors.

Although it may be possible to game the system by creating a bigger social signal than the site really deserves, the experts’ view is that this will be more and more difficult, with Google looking at each person who comments or Likes, then deciding if they’re real or not. If they are one of the millions of fake profiles set up in the past, they will count for nothing, and may even damage a site.

Thus under the intense scrutiny of Google, it may be as hard and unproductive to create huge amounts of social signal as the process of creating thousands of worthless links…

This doesn’t mean that a small quantity of such links and signal are useless. Both can ‘prime the pump’ a little so the real power of the site is allowed to shine through. If this is the case, a small level of gaming (or old-fashioned SEO work) still looks as if it will be worthwhile.

However, if the page or site in question doesn’t really deserve a high ranking, it will eventually be denied one when people tell Google that it’s no good via low CTR’s and high bounce rates. Therefore, the whole process depends on having a site that answers visitors’ needs. And that means high quality, useful content delivered via words, pictures and video.

The new Semantic SEO

So what will the new SEO process look like? In my view it will still start with the keyword phrase. After all, this is the start of the process and can’t be ignored. The next stage is to try to work out which words are likely to be used by someone who has the intent to react with your site in the way you’d want. This could be to buy something, or simply to understand that you could help them with their problem or needs.

Once you’ve decided on these words, you can reverse engineer the Google results to see what sorts of words it likes to see.

Combine this data with the questions that are being asked, and the problems that your site solves, and you have the recipe for a perfect page that answers people’s needs and uses the words Google expects to see. Interestingly, the latter neatly covers the area of LSI (Latent Sematic Indexing) – without all the effort.

Once this page is created, and you’ve placed all the standard ‘blind man signposts’ on it, you can proceed to getting it noticed via old-fashioned links and social media.

As you can see, the above includes some old SEO practices, this being for the simple reason that they’re still as relevant and required as they were several years ago.

The biggest change and the greatest challenges are to understand what you should write about and post on a site, and how you can generate the necessary signal on Social Media. I’ll cover this in my next post.

DIY SEO, is It Possible and is it a Good Idea?

The world of SEO is quite complicated to get your head around, but once you have the basics under your belt, there is no doubt that anyone can do SEO, you just need the training, time and tools, at least that is my view and effects how we approach discussions with potential customers in that where they so have the time, we always suggest that they do as much as they can.

The problem we come across more often than not though is that they don’t have the time to do SEO, just as much as they don’t have the time to do their own accounts.

But for some, the idea of doing their own SEO is really appealing, and for them being able to obtain resources from the web is really great. We are therefore really pleased to be able to point people at this page.

Is do-it-yourself (DIY) search engine optimization (SEO) possible if you lack SEO experience?

“DIY SEO is not just possible, it’s usually preferable,” according to Eric Ward, a noted linking strategist and publisher of the Linkmoses Private newsletter. “Nobody will care as much about your business as you.”

Whether you’re a small business owner or an online marketer at a large company looking to enhance your SEO, the most important thing is to “recognize that the techniques and tactics a DIY SEO’er must use are not universal,” Ward says. “A site that sells hand-carved boomerangs requires different SEO techniques and tactics than a site that sells bobsled parts. While there are some technical aspects to SEO that are common, the ultimate success or failure of your site will be based on SEO and promotion strategies that differentiate you from everyone else.”

We’ve grouped the following 25 invaluable DIY tips from SEO experts into four categories: Keywords, Links, Blogging and Social Media, and Strategies. (Click the links to jump directly to additional sections.) A few of the recommendations may be beyond your technical reach, but understanding the concepts will help you work more effectively with SEO professionals.

Click the link for the full story on DIY SEO